How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy?

10 Do’s and Don’ts to Guide Your Digital Marketing Strategy

digital marketing strategy

Whether you’re a small or big company, it’s essential to have a clear digital marketing strategy to guide your business. 

The terms “marketing strategy”, “marketing goals”, “marketing tactics” and “marketing objectives” may all seem interchangeable. But when used in a marketing context, they actually vary and it’s vital to be aware of their different meanings to ensure there is no ambiguity before you make your digital marketing plans.

We’ve outlined their definitions and some examples for you below.

List of Terms

Digital marketing goals are typically broad, long-term, and critical to your success as they provide an online direction for the company. For instance, growing online brand awareness is a broad goal for a company to achieve.

Digital marketing objectives are measurable actions you take to achieve the company’s goals. An example is to increase engagement from your website fans by 5% in the next 12 months, which will eventually help you achieve your long-term marketing goal of growing online brand awareness.

A digital marketing strategy defines how you will accomplish the objective online. A strategy is fluid and can change throughout the course of a campaign. For example, to increase engagement from your website fans by 5%, a digital marketing strategy to ensure success could focus heavily on social media marketing.

Digital marketing tactics are concrete, granular digital actions you choose to take throughout your strategy to help you reach your objectives. Some examples of social media marketing include creating an online contest or hosting giveaways.

Still, confused? It’s perfectly normal and you’ll get the hang of it as you continue reading this article. Now, let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts to guide your digital marketing strategy.

Don’t: Dive straight into creating your digital marketing strategy

Do: Set your digital marketing goals first

Before you have a strategy, you need to define the direction you want your company to head in and set digital marketing goals.

But even before that, you need to be aware of where your business is at this point in time so you can set clear goals. A situational analysis is highly useful for you to know what are the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of your company.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my current company’s online position in the industry?
  • How is my company’s online performance?
  • How successful are my products online?

Only after conducting your situational analysis then are you ready to set your digital marketing goals.

Example:

After conducting their situation analysis, a high-end inline skates company Skating Queen Inc wishes to have the following digital marketing goals:

    1.       Grow online brand awareness
    2.       Increase customer satisfaction on the website
    3.       Generate more online sales

Don’t: Set vague digital marketing objectives

Do: Set SMART digital marketing objectives

After coming up with your marketing goals, you should set your marketing objectives. Digital marketing objectives are measurable actions you take to achieve the company’s goals. 

It’s critical to have SMART marketing objectives to get your business on the right track. SMART is an acronym for:  

    • Specific: Each objective should have a clearly defined outcome.
    • Measurable: The objectives must be measurable or quantifiable.
    • Achievable: Avoid setting too-high expectations by analysing your previous digital marketing efforts and having the necessary tools and skills to achieve the objectives.
    • Realistic: Objectives must be realistic by setting them in the context of current economic conditions and realities of the business climate.
    • Time-bound: Have a deadline for achieving those objectives.

Example:

Let’s suppose Skating Queen Inc has 10,000 annual visitors on their website. Their first digital marketing goal “grow online brand awareness” is too broad and hard to measure.

A SMART marketing objective would be to increase annual website visitors by 2% (10,200 website visitors) in the next 12 months, which translates to growing online brand awareness as more customers will search for them online.

The marketing objective is specific as it defines the increase in visitors, measurable by the percentage of 2%, achievable compared to the history of the previous website visitors, realistically based on the current COVID-19 economic conditions, and has a time frame of 12 months.

Don’t: Ignore your competition

Do: Conduct a competitor analysis

Businesses who do not evaluate their competitors are akin to charging into the battlefield with their swords drawn, with no idea who or where their enemy is. 

Categorise the sellers in your industry into the following:

a)   Primary Competitors

They are your direct competitors, who are selling similar products or targeting the same audience, or even both.

b)  Secondary Competitors

These competitors may offer a high- or low-end version of your product, or sell something similar to a completely different audience.

c)   Tertiary Competitors

These competitors don’t sell the same products as you or directly compete with you in any way but market to the same audience as you. They will be your direct competitors should they expand their business.

 

Explore your competitors’ digital footprint by looking into their media content, news mentions, and online reviews by customers. Next, create an online spreadsheet that tracks their online activities and from the spreadsheet, you should

    • Figure out what online methods are working well for your competitors and tweak them to fit your own business.
    • Better yet,  come up with a method that is more effective than all your competitors.

It is essential to conduct competitor analysis as this guides your online marketing strategy- whether you should be targeting your primary competitors, secondary competitors, tertiary competitors, or all three.

Example:

Based on the earlier example of Skating Queen Inc, the following are their different competitors:

    • Skating King who is selling Skating King inline skates (primary competitor).
    • Skating Prince who is selling low-end roller skates (secondary competitor).
    • Skating Guard who is selling protective helmets and wrist guards (tertiary competitor).

Don’t: Promote your company blindly

Do: Identify your comparative advantage

You’ve identified your competitors. Next, you should focus on differentiating your product online from your competitors. Your online differentiation can be one or more of the following:

    • Service differentiation like improving on the speed and personalisation of your online website.
    • Image differentiation such as the layout, symbols, signs, or design of your website.
    • Channel differentiation based on performance, coverage, or expertise of your online platforms.

Be one step ahead of your competition by highlighting the benefits your potential customers will get when they choose to browse and/or buy your product.

Example:

As Skating Queen Inc is a high-end inline skates company, it can focus on improving its services as its target audience are affluent customers who place a higher value on the before- and after-sales experience. Skating Queen Inc can offer personalised chat services on their website to differentiate their online service.

Don’t: Target generic consumers in your marketing strategy

Do: Develop specific buyer personas

Buyer personas tell you a lot more about your consumers, their pain points, and what you can do for them.

List down all the demographic information—like age, gender, and location—you know about your target consumer. Delve into their conscious and unconscious desires, goals, aspirations, fears, and document all of the factors that make them tick.

This information should be based on research like Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights. Sometimes it’s also necessary to define more than one buyer profile.

Example:

Skating Queen Inc developed a specific buyer persona: A wealthy male fitness enthusiast, who skates frequently in the city every day after work and during the weekends. Aged 25 – 35 years, he is always on the lookout for new places to explore on skates. He enjoys surfing the Internet on his mobile phone to unwind and relax after a long day. 

Don’t: Just create a digital marketing strategy

Do: Use your goals, objectives, and research to guide your digital marketing strategy

Remember how we asked you to set your marketing goals, objectives, conduct your competitor analysis, and develop your buyer personas? This information really comes into handy now as you’re more aware of your own marketing targets, competitors, and target consumers. Use it to guide your marketing strategy.

Example:

To recap, Skating Queen Inc wishes to have the following digital marketing goals:

      1.       Grow online brand awareness
      2.       Increase customer satisfaction on the website
      3.       Generate more online sales

One of their digital marketing objectives is to increase annual website visitors by 2% (10,200 website visitors) in the next 12 months. 

Since their target audience is a wealthy male fitness enthusiast who enjoys surfing the Internet on his mobile phone, their digital marketing strategy can be search engine optimization (SEO).

Don’t: Come up with digital marketing tactics

Do: Focus on the right digital marketing tactics

As defined in the beginning, these action-focused, nitty-gritty tactics throughout your strategy will help you achieve your digital marketing goals. Some good examples include:

    • Running advertisements on specific online platforms
    • Creating a contest

The previous few steps – identifying your target consumer, comparative advantage and conducting  a competitive analysis – will help you formulate and focus on the right marketing tactics to attract more consumers.

Example:

As part of their SEO marketing strategy, Skating Queen Inc’s marketing tactic is creating content articles revolving around the best city places to explore on skates, which will appeal to their target consumer— the wealthy male fitness enthusiast. This will then increase their annual website visitors (marketing objective) in the short-run and grow their online brand awareness (marketing goal) in the long-run.

Don’t: Focus on top-of-the-funnel content in your marketing tactics

Do: Focus on different phases of consideration in your marketing tactics

Start by understanding the marketing funnel to figure out what kind of marketing tactics would work. The marketing funnel consists of three phases:

    • Discovery (Top-of-the-Funnel): People learn about your company when looking for a product. Many businesses spend a lot of time creating top-of-the-funnel content but don’t address the middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel content.
    •  Consideration (Middle-of-the-Funnel): The consumer is now actively considering which product to purchase. The more the user has advanced in the conversion funnel, the more specific and focused the content should be.
    • Purchase (Bottom-of-the-Funnel): The consumer buys the product.

Some ways you can focus on different phases of consideration are

    • Diversifying your content mix in terms of formats – W-H (Who, What, Why, When, Where, How) content for top-of-the-funnel users.
    • Creating more in-depth topics for middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel users.

This provides a cohesive experience to all customers at every touchpoint of your marketing journey.

Example:

Back to the example of Skating Queen Inc. The company can generate different content for consumers in all 3 phases such as

    • Discovery (Top-of-the-Funnel): Creating a content article titled “Best Places in the City to Explore On Skates”.
    • Consideration (Middle-of-the-Funnel): Creating a content article that compares different brands of inline skates for city skaters.
    • Purchase (Bottom-of-the-Funnel): Demonstrating Skating Queen Inc’s different skates to their consumers on the company’s social media websites.

Don’t: Be complacent

Do: Conduct frequent performance reviews

At this stage, you’ve already executed your marketing tactics and results are starting to show. Now what? It’s best not to rest on your laurels as your marketing strategy will never go as planned. You can’t predict exactly how all your customers will behave. Circumstances change and emergency situations might happen. To be effective, strategies and tactics need to be incredibly flexible.

Monitor the performance of your digital marketing strategy quarterly and make tweaks to your strategy and tactics if necessary. It takes a continuous and consistent effort on your part to fulfill your objectives and goals.

Don’t: Be short-sighted

Do: Have a contingency plan

When conducting frequent performance reviews, you should know if your marketing strategy is on the right track. When your objectives aren’t met, you need to execute your contingency plans. It’s essential to have a plan ready to avoid the last-minute scramble.

Some contingency plans can be diversifying the platforms where you market your products or even engaging a digital marketing consultant if necessary.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a clearer idea about digital marketing strategy and how to develop one that responds to the needs of your brand. As shown from above, a digital marketing strategy is actually a stepping stone for you to accomplish your objectives, and therefore goals, online. 

To sum up, conduct your research and set broad marketing goals before implementing your marketing strategies and tactics. Be prepared to review and tweak your strategies regularly so you’re on track to fulfill your marketing goals. Adjusting them shouldn’t be perceived as negative – it’s something that’s completely necessary in order to keep moving forward. 

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